Boots For Kids warms children’s feet and hearts from Chilliwack to Boston Bar

‘You hear these stories about little kids walking around with duct-taped shoes,’ says organizer

Thanks to a number of local businesses, 833 kids from Chilliwack to Boston Bar will have warm feet this winter.

The biannual Boots For Kids campaign, put on by Murray Honda and Canadian Tire, provides kids in need with winter boots and shoes. The initiative is one half of Project Warmth, an annual fundraiser that provides winter footwear to children one year, and coats the next year. Last year they handed out 700 winter coats as part of their Coats For Kids project.

“In the last seven years we’ve been able to contribute, as a team, over $600,000 worth of boots, coats and school supplies,” says organizer Justin Mallard of Murray Honda.

READ MORE: Winter coats delivered to kids across Chilliwack

They average about 500 kids each year, but last year that ballooned by about 50 per cent when they decided to add school district 78 (Cascade) which includes Agassiz, Harrison, Hope and Boston Bar.

Project Warmth began in 2012. Each year, the schools send in their requests for new footwear (or coats) in December. But Canadian Tire general manager, John Boris, and store manager, Karen Baumeister, are already ahead of the game by that point.

They shop early for the boots, starting around September to get the best deals. Canadian Tire buys about 85-90 per cent of the footwear while SportChek helps fill in the gap.

“We try to do a year-round, insulted, waterproof shoe/boot,” says Boris.

“John works really hard to get good quality stuff. We get a really good mix of different types — everything from running shoes to hikers to winter boots to rubber boots,” says Mallard.

Nike, Under Armour and New Balance are some of the brands they hand out. This year, there are even some boots that light up.

They like to pick a wide variety so the kids whose parents cannot afford new boots don’t get singled out. The organizers don’t want to make it obvious which children received new boots.

“You hear these stories about little kids walking around with duct-taped shoes. We hear that every single year,” says Mallard. “It’s just heartbreaking to think that these youngsters are having to deal with things out of their control, and also it puts an emotional burden on their parents.” 

Boris recalls what one principal told him last year when they were handing out coats: “He broke down crying. He said ‘you guys have no idea. You don’t see the kids every day that come into school that are cold and wet, and there’s nothing we can do about it.’”

But local businesses and individuals can do something.

Canadian Tire and Murray Honda rely on their sponsors and cash donations every year to make Project Warmth a success. This year, there are 31 business sponsors who’ve helped in purchasing the boots.

Though Canadian Tire does get a heavy discount when Boris and Baumeister purchase the footwear, each pair of boots costs an average of $35.

The boots and shoes were sorted into bins Monday and are being delivered this week to children from Chilliwack to Boston Bar.

Additionally, three local fibre artists helped as well. Gaye Bailey and Sherry Welch hand knit and crocheted 700 toques to Project Warmth, while another woman knit about 30 toques with matching scarves. They will be delivered to the schools along with the boots.

Those wanting to help contribute to Boots For Kids still can. Canadian Tire will continue to collect cash donations at its check-out tills up until Dec. 31.


 

@PhotoJennalism
jenna.hauck@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Bunnie Haigh (left) and John Boris, general manager at Canadian Tire, sort boots as part of the Boots For Kids campaign on Monday. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

John Boris, general manager at Canadian Tire, (left) and Justin Mallard of Murray Honda sort boots as part of the Boots For Kids campaign on Monday. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

Just Posted

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Fraser-Cascade School Board votes to invest in protecting the future of its students’ hearing

Decibel monitors to be installed in secondary schools’ machine shops as a visual guide

Kent-Harrison Foundation celebrates 25 years

The foundation started in 1994 on the promise of a two-for-one donation deal

Bucket-list flight for Chilliwack grandmother

Hampton House resident treated to a beautiful plane ride in Moments that Matter

Lagoon improvements, but no safety audit recommendations, coming to Harrison

The lagoon will see electrical upgrades, a new flag pole and fencing, but no life jackets or signs

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read